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Poor households in the south are engaging in atypical coping and the depletion of assets

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Madagascar
  • December 2015
Poor households in the south are engaging in atypical coping and the depletion of assets

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  • Key Messages
  • Projected Outlook through March 2016
  • Key Messages
    • In Androy, Atsimo Andrefana and parts of Anosy Regions, drought during the 2014/15 rainy season caused a third consecutive year of below-average staple food production and an early exhaustion of household food stocks. In these areas, poor households are struggling to meet their minimum food needs and are engaged in the accelerated depletion of livelihood assets, such as livestock sales. As a result, households are currently facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food security outcomes. In other areas of the country, Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity is expected.

    • The 2015/16 agricultural season is ongoing throughout the country. While rainfall has generally been sufficient to meet crop needs, certain seasonal forecasts suggest an increased probability that southern regions will receive normal to below-normal rainfall during the remainder of the season due to the effects of El Niño. Additionally, unusual high migration rates have been observed in Androy, Atsimo Andrefana and parts of Anosy Regions, which could negatively affect labor availability and the area planted in crops this year in these regions.


    Current Anomalies

    Projected Anomalies

    South and South-West


    • An early exhaustion of household stocks
    • An earlier and higher than normal increase in staple food prices
    • Asset-stripping coping mechanisms and food consumption gaps amongst poor households
    • Migration to various destinations, such as Majungà and Ankazoabo, for agricultural labor work opportunities
    • Below-average production amongst households with members who had migrated due to a lack of family labor

    Projected Outlook through March 2016
    • 2015 agricultural production: The recent CFSAM estimated that 2015 national rice production was 7.6 percent below the five-year average, with variations in production levels across the country’s different geographical zones. For instance, in the regions of Itasy, Melaky and SAVA, rice production was estimated to be above the five-year average by 20 percent, 16 percent, and 25 percent, respectively. Meanwhile, in the regions of Androy, Anosy, Menabe, and Atsimo Atsinanana, rice harvests were down by 84 percent, 56 percent, 43 percent, and 46 percent, respectively. In Menabe and Atsimo Atsinanana regions, fishing activities and cash crop production are helping to offset the effects of this below-average production by generating additional income. However, in Androy and Anosy where cash crops and fishing are less common livelihoods strategies, the significant production shortfalls are contributing to food insecurity.
    • Progress of current agricultural season: The rainy season started on time or earlier than normal in October in most areas of the country, although the rains in far southern regions have been poorly distributed, with periods of well above-average rainfall followed by short dry spells. According to certain forecasts (ex. Ministère du tourisme, de transports, et de la météorologie, ECMWF, UK MET) there is an increased probability that southern parts of Madagascar will receive normal to below-normal rainfall in the coming months due to the continued effects of El Niño. The potential for below-average rains implies a possibility for the continuation or intensification of the negative agricultural conditions encountered last year and thus requires close monitoring through the end of the agricultural season.
    • Food security outcomes: Due to relatively normal livelihoods and stable market functioning, most northern and central areas of the country are expected to face Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity. However, in certain southern areas of concern (outlined in more detail below), Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected through at least March 2016.
    Southern districts of Anosy, Atsimo Andrefana and Androy Regions
    • Agricultural production: In Androy and Anosy, 2015 maize production was estimated to be 60 percent below the five-year average. Similarly, cassava production was down by more than 70 percent. As a result, household food stocks depleted several months earlier than usual (ex. starting in September instead of November/December as in a typical year) and poor households have been market dependent for a longer period of time than usual.
    • Markets: A FEWS NET mission conducted in mid-November found that maize prices in Ambovombe and Tsihombe districts ranged from 70 to 90 percent above the 5-year average. In January and February (the peak of the lean season), maize prices are projected to increase before then stabilizing or declining in March with the start of early harvests. Atypically high food prices will limited food access for market dependent households between now and March 2016.
    • Coping strategies: While better-off households are selling atypical levels of cattle this year, poor households are currently coping by selling off their limited number of small animals and by increasing wood collection activities, migration, and the consumption of cactus leaves. These activities are typical for the peak of the lean season but started in November this year, two months earlier than normal. In some coastal areas and in parts of the districts of Beloha and Tsihombe, the rate of migration has been more than 50 percent, which could reduce labor availability for the ongoing agricultural season with potential consequences for the area planted in crops this year.
    • Humanitarian assistance programs: A $4.5 million food assistance program funded by the US government and implemented by local NGOs is targeting 120,000 beneficiaries in the districts of Amboasary, Ambovombe, Tsihombe, Beloha, Bekily and part of Atsimo Andrefana region from October 2015 to February 2016. The objective of this program is to provide 2.3 metric tons of food assistance, as well as farm supplies and small livestock, to beneficiary households. The programs will also distribute specialized, nutritious foods to malnourished children, as well as pregnant and lactating women, who are most affected by acute malnutrition. In addition, WFP is currently implementing the AINA program through April 2016, which is providing a targeted 68,000 beneficiaries in the food-insecure south with cash and food-for-assets assistance.
    • Food security outcomes: Given the early exhaustion of household food stocks, limited labor opportunities, and higher than average food prices, households in these areas will continue to face difficulties meeting their basic food consumption and livelihoods protection needs. At least 20 percent of households in the districts of Tsihombe, Beloha and the coastal parts of Ampanihy and Ambovombe are expected to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity until the next harvest in April 2016. Meanwhile, in the districts of Betioky, Bekily, and Amboasary, as well as in parts of Ampanihy and Ambovombe, harvests of non-staple crops (ex. watermelon) in late February and early March will end the harsh lean season. As a result, households in these areas are expected to face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) starting in February/March.
    Figures Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Rainfall forecasts for January to March 2016

    Figure 2

    Rainfall forecasts for January to March 2016

    Source: Ministère du tourisme, de transports, et de la météorologie

    Figure 1


    In remote monitoring, a coordinator typically works from a nearby regional office. Relying on partners for data, the coordinator uses scenario development to conduct analysis and produce monthly reports. As less data may be available, remote monitoring reports may have less detail than those from countries with FEWS NET offices. Learn more about our work here.

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